Don’t just watch Top Chef—become one. New York City has practically as many cooking schools as restaurants, but these are our favorites. And even if you don’t become a top chef, you’ll at least learn how to stop fearing your fridge and start loving your oven. By Jessica Allen.
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Foursquare Favorite: Sur La Table
306 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019
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You’ll leave full and happy after a class at the 57th Street Sur La Table kitchenware shop, where the two-hour cooking classes — either demonstration or hands-on — all include tasting-size portions of seasonal dishes (from $59).
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Appetite for Seduction
Appetite for Seduction offers “sensual cooking classes,” designed to help couples “unlock the secrets to cooking a sensual meal for two.” The three-course meals (with wine) include such aphrodisiacs as asparagus and salmon. As you cook, you’ll hear about how to stimulate the senses and various types of appetites using food and you’ll get a mini-lecture on the history of aphrodisiacs. At the end of the evening, you’ll get copies of the recipes to re-create the meal at home.
The Brooklyn Kitchen
The Brooklyn Kitchen opened in 2006, specializing in products, equipment, and groceries for home cooks. The logical next step? To start teaching people how to use the products, equipment, and groceries. Among the courses currently on offer are Homebrewing, Chinese Dumpling Making (with beer pairing from the Brooklyn Brewery), Knife Skills, Whole Fish Butchering, Sourdough Bread, Easy Weeknight Meals, and Fresh Pasta Making.
Institute of Culinary Education
More than 26,000 people sign up for the Institute of Culinary Education’s 1,500 classes each year. Each one is taught in a state-of-the-art professional kitchen, and they generally conclude with a family-style meal. Upcoming offerings range from Mexican Surf & Turf to Gourmet Cakes to Essentials of Indian Cooking to Greenmarket Cooking, which begins with a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket, to Cooking Jets’ Players Favorites, which includes a visit from current Jets players.
Natural Gourmet Institute
Natural Gourmet Institute offers instruction in food that’s not only good to eat, but also good for you. Indeed, this school’s motto is “better eating, better world.” In such classes as Raw and Amazing Desserts, the Art and Technique of Homemade Tofu, and Edible Holiday Gifts: Preserving, Pickling & Fermenting, you’ll use organic whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, sea vegetables, and natural sweeteners, among other ingredients, to make wholesome, energy-giving, life-affirming edibles.
Pizza a Casa Pizza School
At Pizza a Casa Pizza School, you’ll discover how to make quality pies at home, no special oven or equipment required. Each four-hour classes includes hands-on instruction in the art of dough-making and -shaping, topping selection and placement, and baking. You’ll also get to sample plenty of pizzas, and take home leftovers and dough to ensure you apply what you’ve learned in your own casa. Couples can sign up for the couples class, while cheeseheads can uncover the secrets of mozzarella and more in cheese-specific classes.
Julie Sahni Indian Cooking
101 Clark St. Brooklyn 11201
Classes here focus on the fine art of culinary aromatics. Students learn cultural and religious philosophies behind different Indian cuisines. Ayurvedic healing and vegan classes are also taught on request.
The Urban Kitchen
108 Adams St. Hoboken NJ 07030
This Hoboken culinary center holds classes on everything from Super Bowl Chiles, dinner party preparations, beer pairings and basic Chinese cuisine. Their practical classes on seafood basics and healthy eating for the extra-busy resident. Plus, every Saturday night, the Urban Kitchen can be booked for a private party — where the chef preapres a 7-course meal designed just for you and your guests.